UPDATED: Maryland Teen Works with Taylor Swift to Create Anti-Bu - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

UPDATED: Maryland Teen Works with Taylor Swift to Create Anti-Bullying Video, Testifies in Bullying Bill Hearing

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McKinsey Siwald in viral anti-bullying video (Courtesy of Youtube). McKinsey Siwald in viral anti-bullying video (Courtesy of Youtube).
McKinsey Siwald (Courtesy of Facebook). McKinsey Siwald (Courtesy of Facebook).
QUEENSTOWN, Md.- A viral inspirational video posted by a young girl has prompted several anti-bullying quests.

In May 2013, McKinsey Siwald who was 13 at the time, created a video with an anti-bullying message that would go on to receive worldwide attention. She met with WBOC and shared her story.

The original anti-bullying video was prompted by an incident that occurred two years ago in the cafeteria, according to the family. Siwald was bullied at lunch time, leaving her distraught, according to Joelle Siwald, McKinsey's mother.

“Kinsey was devastated and it all snowballed from there,” Joelle said.

This incident prompted Siwald to enter an anti-bullying video into a local contest run by myeasternshore.com, sponsored by Chic-fila-A. Siwald was a winner in this contest, according to Siwald's mother.

“I just made the video to cope with continued bullying and I wanted to make it relatable for other people, to help others and just help myself,” Siwald said.

Like many teenage girls, Taylor Swift happened to be an idol to Siwald.

According to Siwald's mother, Taylor Swift started messaging her daughter through Facebook for several months offering a tremendous amount of support.

“I was really surprised Taylor Swift contacted me and had an ongoing dialogue with me,” Siwald said. “She really helped me with public speaking and my home life.”

These anti-bullying stances soon became part of the curriculum at Centerville schools according to Siwald's mother. Siwald's anti-bullying video has not only made a difference at her Centerville school, but it has gone on to touch lives in Europe.

Last year, RTL, Europe's largest private broadcaster, contacted Siwald about an anti-bullying documentary they were filming. Siwald ended up being featured in this documentary for 12 minutes.

“The documentary is in German so it is a little hard to understand but it really put these schools on the map,” Joelle Siwald said. “This has been a huge crusade for us that has really hit every aspect of our lives.”

Siwald has been able to sit in on anti-bullying meetings and went on to speak at three schools through the Anti-Bullying Committee with the Board of Education, according to Siwald.

“These videos help me and others around me,” said Siwald. “People have been coming to me that I don't really talk to so I can see that it is helping people out.”

Siwald has since reached out to Taylor Swift for more ideas.

A short time later, Swift's pop hit “Shake it Off” swept the nation. Siwald used this song for her second anti-bullying video that has been a huge success, according to Siwald.

“Taylor Swift is a role model to me because she has stayed classy and down to earth,” said Siwald. “She is very kind and takes care of her fans which is something I want to do.”

On top of creating viral videos, being featured on a European documentary and speaking at various schools, Siwald has applied for an ambassador position at “STOMP Out Bullying.”

UPDATE: On Friday, March 13th, McKinsey and her friend Erin testified at a hearing in Annapolis for House Bill 853, which would implement an anonymous texting service at all Maryland schools to deal with bullying.  Students can send a text to the service, describing what happened, when, and who did it.  The company then reports it to the schools.

Queen Anne's County has been part of the pilot program for "Text 2 Tip", which reports bullying is down by 33 percent in the last year, with 22 cases of bullying reported, 6 cases of drug use or smoking, and the intervention in 3 potential suicides.  McKinsey says the service has been a great thing for the students.

"I like that not only are you able to report your problem, but it's very comforting and it has a sense of humor.  It's more like talking to a person that you know is listening."


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